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Dear Mr Bigelow: A Transatlantic Friendship Hardcover – 1 Oct 2009

9 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Chatto & Windus (1 Oct. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0701184809
  • ISBN-13: 978-0701184803
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3.6 x 25.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 910,372 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"Many pleasing and interesting small touches..."
--Literary Review

`a treat to be savoured' --Daily Express

Book Description

Lively and vibrant, Frances Woodsford's letters to America from austerity Bournemouth have recently come to light and are set to become a perennial favourite

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Sarah VINE VOICE on 9 Oct. 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is not a book i was desperate to read, however, i'm glad Waterstones sent it out to me because i found it really enjoyable. I loved reading the little snippets of information about life in the 1950's for one small family. I sat down thinking to only read the first few pages, but managed to read almost half the book in one sitting! And i didn't even notice the time flying by, all i wanted to know was what happened next.

I have to say that it's a shame that Frances Woodsford never seems to have written actual novels, from her letter writing i imagine she would be an excellent novelist.

My only wish is that some of the letters from Mr Bigelow had survived as well so we could see both sides of the "conversation". However, i am glad that these letters managed to survive and miraculously made their way back to their originator.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Thelma Batchelor on 10 Feb. 2010
Format: Hardcover
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Frances Woodsford was a middle-aged unmarried lady living in Bournemouth. Her letters to a wealthy American commodore, Mr Bigelow, present a marvellous insight into an austere and humdrum life such as was lived by many in Britain in the years following the Second World War. The Commodore too wrote regular letters back to Frances from his Long Island home but, sadly, these have been lost.

These letters, written between the years 1949 and 1961, by Frances, then in her forties, were mailed weekly to Mr Bigelow until his death aged 97.

Frances and her Commodore never met but the Commodore's daughter Rosalind was the vital link in their relationship as pen-pals, and Rosalind made several short visits to Frances Woodsford over the years.

The author writes with great wit and humour and the whole book is greatly entertaining. I wouldn't have picked up this book by choice but it was lent to me in good faith that I would enjoy it, and enjoy it I did.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Multikulti on 27 April 2010
Format: Hardcover
Inspired by readings from this book on BBC Radio 4, I thoroughly enjoyed the warmth and humour in this book, but then I am interested in anything that illustrates social history in the years from WWI through to the post-war years.
These letters written by a middle-aged English spinster to an elderly American gentleman she never met are charming and natural, full of wit and intelligence and very much of their time, mid-50s to early 60s. The author was also a talented artist and there are a number illustrations dotted throughout, as well as photographs. The book also shows what life was like for a lot of fairly average people in that period, though perhaps not completely typical, since Frances seems to have good connections with a lot of Americans and opportunities for foreign travel that many might not have had. Nevertheless, highly recommended.
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By turnerpage on 19 Mar. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
A provincial British seaside town in 1952. No, not the Brighton of Graham Greene, but Bournemouth. Doesn't sound promising, does it? Yet Frances Woodsford's Dear Mr Bigelow, a collection of her letters about her life reminds us how much the world has changed since then yet so much remains the same.
On a trip up to London, she describes the ten days of 'long drawn out agony' of public mourning for the death of King George. A family numb with grief on public display, where in this case the Queen Mother appearing lonely and lost, reminded me of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.
This is but one sombre note amongst a set of mostly resolutely cheerful and delightful letters describing her life. Her purpose in writing to pen friend Paul Bigelow, (who she always addressed as 'Mr Bigelow' as they had never met) was to brighten up the lonely elderly man's life. His daughter Rosalind had been very kind to Frances after the Second World War, sending her food and clothes parcels from America as it was not until 1954, fourteen years after the end of the war that rationing finally ceased in Britain. Wine, chocolate and biscuits were treats, brought out on very special occasions, not everyday indulgences as they are now.
The author comes across as immensely likeable, who hardly ever moaned or thought of herself – so refreshing compared with modern life. And Frances had every reason to moan – but she never gives in to self-pity. After her wealthy father's death, his business collapsed leaving the family with nothing. Frances, a bright student had to abandon her education and leave school to put food on the table. She took a job far below her capabilities – as a secretary working in the Public Baths Department of the local town council.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Llelyn on 9 Aug. 2013
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed this book from first to last. The reviewer who 'learn nothing about the period' must be very unobservant. What about the hours worked, the deprevation, the rationing of everything from eggs to clothing? I was born in 1938 and it conjured up the atmosphere of my childhood vividly. I found Frances rather noble in her failure to complain too loudly about all she did for other people and the small amount of time she had to herself. When I had finished it I really missed her and longed to read Mr. Bigelow's first reply! The friend I lent it to felt the same.
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